Friday, March 5, 2010

Life Lessons...

I am sitting in the Denver airport waiting to catch a flight back home. I had a sudden urge to write today but have just now been able to fire up my laptop.

For some reason I feel like I had some type of epiphany these past few days. Even 12 years after diagnosis I continually ask myself "why me?" or "why this?". Of all the things that someone can get, why would I have epilepsy? And then something happened last night that for whatever reason made me come to the realization that I may never understand why I started having seizures but I think now I do understand what the seizures and experience has done for me. And that realization is that epilepsy has in some ways made my life more meaningful.

I came to this realization when I was on a business trip this week. I went to dinner with one of the clients last night at a restaurant that I would have never been to if it had not been for my work in California. I was in Nevada City, a small town located east of Sacramento. The town is small and my only connection with it is that clients reside in the area.

At dinner my client told me about a friend's daughter who was in UC Davis Hospital in Sacramento. She had gone in for some stomach issues but while she was in the hospital was experiencing "seizures". The doctors were calling them "non-seizures" because they hooked her daughter up to an EEG and recorded no seizure during a time when she was not having the "episodes" that had started plaguing her out of the blue. They felt that her body was reacting to pain she was experiencing elsewhere so they did not consider them as seizures.

My client knew that I had epilepsy and she asked me questions about my seizures and about my journey to diagnosis. Our subject matter eventually turned to other things as we continued to talk.

A gentleman approached our table and said that he had overheard our conversation partially and wanted to know how my seizures were. He seemed concerned and very genuine, so I told him that I had been fine and that things were fairly controlled for the most part. He said, "I just wanted to see how you are doing." It was truly one of the sweetest things a total stranger has ever said to me..."how are you doing?"

This gentleman was a doctor from UC Davis in Sacramento. He was a professor and held a PhD in research in Epilepsy. He gave my friend two epileptologists' names and bid us farewell. My client had a voice message come on her phone while the gentleman talked to us. It was her friend calling, the woman whose daughter was having seizures in the Sacramento hospital. My client called her friend as we drove back to the office. Her daughter had been discharged from the hospital but had a "non-seizure" in the car on the way home. After the two of them hung up my client continued to voice her concern about her friend's daughter. As we talked about different things that happen to people who have seizures, I mentioned to her that some of the doctors that I saw in St. Paul when I was hospitalized early on, felt that I had possibly had viral meningitus the December before my seizures began. I had never had a spinal tap so I could never go back and confirm either way. My client had a look on her face that I cannot describe. She then told me that her friend's daughter had just had viral meningitus in December this past year.

So I ask myself... is this coincidence or fate? I had a melancholy feeling as I drove back to my hotel last night.

My mother called me this morning and woke me up at 6 AM California time, not realizing that I was travelling on business and not in the same time zone as her. She told me about a woman that she had met whose son was having seizures. She wanted her to come to the support group. And for the first time in years, I heard my mother weep. She said that the conversation with the other woman reminded her of me. She said to me that the woman never gave up on her son and was a fighter.

This morning I saw my client. I told her to have her friend follow her "motherly instinct" and to fight for her child. To challenge the doctors if she needed to. She knew her daughter best and knew her daughter's behaviors and mannerisms better than anyone else. If the non-seizures were actually seizures, then fight for her.

So this is how I came to the realization that everyone can be connected in some way or another and my connection with so many interesting and wonderful people has been because of my seizures. So, what has epilepsy done for me? It has made my life more meaningful, for better or worse. Read more!